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Aldermen Reject Smoking Ban Exemption; Commander Says Post Might Disband

Leo Lang, first vice commander of the post, cites financial woes due to a loss in bar sales.

An amendment that would have exempted from Brentwood's blanket smoking ban failed by a 4-3 vote in front of a crowd of legion members on Monday night. Five votes were required for passage.

Before the vote, Third Ward Alderman Andrew Leahy—the bill's sponsor—asked the board to approve the exemption.

“I'm asking the board to allow the owners of the premises—and the group itself—to do what is right for their own members,” Leahy said. He said he didn't think the city should “impose penalties” on the service organization.

Second Ward Alderman Lee Wynn, who isn’t a smoker, said he supported the exemption.

“I feel this is the right thing for our veterans,” he said. “It’s just my heart."

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Lorraine Krewson voted against the exemption because it was personal. Her brother, father and ex-husband all died to lung cancer, she said, and she couldn't justify allowing smoking.

First Ward Alderwoman Barb Clements—who talked with legion members at a Public Safety Committee last month—also voted against the exemption. She said the post should establish a smoking area outside.

No other aldermen voiced an opinion at the meeting. First Ward Alderman Anthony Harper and Third Ward Alderman Keith Robertson voted in favor of the exemption and Fourth Ward Alderman Tom Kramer voted against it. Second Ward Alderman Mike Marshall was absent for medical reasons.

A group of legion members quickly left the meeting, some mumbling concerns as they exited the chambers.

Leo Lang, the first vice commander of the post, was visibly frustrated following the vote.

"Why they were determined to disband the post, I don't know," Lang said. "We're out of business. We don't have any money."

Post leaders have said a smoking ban would cause the hall to shut down because patrons of the bar——will flee to in Maplewood or the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Richmond Heights, two locations where smoking is still allowed.

He told the aldermen that the post is already suffering after going smoke-free on January 1. The organization could last only a month longer in its current financial situation, he said.

The post has been approached by city officials in Rock Hill about moving the membership to a location in that city on Manchester Road, Lang said. He expects the post to move to that location or disband entirely, but said the membership has to vote on what it prefers to do.

Leahy said he'll consider bringing the bill up for a vote again when every alderman is in attendance.

Betty Emerson February 08, 2011 at 01:27 PM
I'm dismayed the alderman didn't leave this facility alone. Veterans earn the right to smoke (good or bad for them) and they could do that at Golf Moll. My dad died of Cancer too but personsal issues should not be a part of a decision like this. I'm sorry for Ms. Krewson 's losses but she was wrong to vote"no" for that reason. My husband is a Vietnam Vet and works for the VA as a respiratory therapist. He doesn't smoke but many of the Veterans he see still do - for some it's all they have left (arms/legs sometimes minds gone). At both VA hospitals in St. Louis and in VA homes there are place for Vets to smoke. Golf Moll has been around for over 50 yearsSo we lose our post because some woman voted against her veterans - who have kept her safe all her life - because of a personal issue. Next time she's up for election, I for one will do all I can to campaign against her. I am 66, grew up in Brentwood, still live here and continue to shake my head at the group who governs this municipality. Maybe a name change to 'Cliquewood' makes more sense.
M E MiMi Hunsaker February 08, 2011 at 08:30 PM
As a resident of Brentwood since 1980 and a member of American Legion Post 101 Auxiliary, I attended the Board of Alderman's meeting last night. First, I would like to thank the four gentlemen for supporting the exemption for our post. It is the naysayers where my concern lies. The magic word from their mouths was 'I' .. what happened to your constituents. I must have a misconception of elected officials. I always thought [and was taught] that officials are the constituents 'eyes and ears' [and mouth]. My vote at the next election will be cast for a 'We' person .. not an 'I' person. M:)(:
Jack Suntrup February 08, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Good luck to the Goff-Moll Post! Don't give up! Consider moving to Rock Hill because both communities would not be the same without you.
Evan Marshall February 09, 2011 at 02:13 AM
It's a shame that the exemption didn't pass. What I don't understand is what exactly the brentwood alderman who voted against the exemption think is to become of the post. With VA posts in Maplewood and Shrewsbury that have been exempted from the ban, it's obvious that Goff-Moll will close if it is not exempted as well. It would be very unfortunate if the post that's been a part of Brentwood for decades was forced to disband. I am hopeful about the re-vote, though. I'm sure alderman marshall's vote will make a difference in the outcome.
Pat Maloney (Wilken) February 09, 2011 at 01:28 PM
I read this article in my e-mail as an Alert, the other night. I thought I had left a comment, but guess I didn't. I am a member of Post 101 also, and am very sorry that Brentwood has not exempted the Post from the smoking ban. I grew up in Brentwood and Maplewood, went to school at St. Mary Magdalen, and have many happy memories of Cecelia Ave. Shame on Brentwood for thinking that they are better than St. Louis County and City, and that it was up to them to change what was voted on by us. I am wondering why they think they should change the ban to begin with....and then when it applies to only three more places of business....decide to go ahead and change the ban. I am a non-smoker, but I don't believe in this smoking ban for any of the three establishments it affects, especially for Post 101. The veterans of our country, deserve to have a "safe haven" as it were, to enjoy their life, after some of them put their lives on the line to fight for ours.
Bill McKenzie February 12, 2011 at 03:31 PM
This is nosy government at its worst. We don't need big brother telling everyone what to do. I don't smoke but would never presume to tell somebody else what to do. Now even the people of Egypt are more free than the citizens of Brentwood!
Bill Cotten February 25, 2011 at 05:51 PM
This is a problem facing a lot of communities and I have a solution that might work. I believe that people have the right to smoke where they please and I believe that non-smokers should not have to put up with the smell and health hazard. One simple solution is to permit the use of e-cigarettes to be used and even promoted by the post. For those of you who do not know what an e-cigarette is, they look like cigarettes, they light up at the end, the smoker brethes in nicotine and exhales simple water vapor. They have no odor, no health hazard, no irritation, and still they satisfy the smoker. They are recomended by many doctors and given to heart patients that can not quit smoking. It is the ideal solution to your problem. The smoker purchases a starter kit for around $50. The cost is about 1/2 the price of regular cigerettes, supply the pleasure of cigarettes and have no health hazard. The following website has all the information including video's by a doctor telling about the products. www.smokefreejax.com. You can contact him thru the website and I am sure he would be willing to send a couple of starter kits to the post for an opportunity to make some sales. You can reach him thru the email on site. I am a veteran and I saw your problem on Fox News and thought I would share this idea with you. Maybe someone that is using the e-cigarettes could voice an opinion on this. Just a thought and best of luck. Bill from Jacksonivlle

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